The U.S. Panama Business Council USA president Juan B. Sosa presented the Port of Houston Authority with a Friendship Award, accepted by PHA Chairman Jim Edmonds at the council’s July 14 Panama Day inauguration dinner. “It was an honor to receive this award,” said Edmonds. “This latest development is a tribute to growing trade and a strengthening relationship between Houston’s port and Panama. The PHA is the seventh largest container port in the U.S., and is becoming the leading alternative to traditional west coast cargo landings, which has resulted in above-average growth rates,” he said. “Efforts were made many years ago to promote business between the Port of Houston and Panama, and I am very proud of the partnership that has flourished throughout the years,” says Adsinar Cajar Bocek, consul general of Panama. “Together, we have acted as ambassadors to the trade community. The expansion of the Panama Canal will provide an entryway to the Gulf Coast from Asia and is a tool for the port and the region to grow.” With the Panama Canal representing a strategic link between the Port of Houston Authority and East Asia - the fastest-growing PHA containerized cargo market - the PHA recently relocated its regional office for trade growth within Central and South America, excluding Brazil, to Panama City, Panama, under the leadership of Arturo Gamez. The PHA has also renewed and extended its Memorandum of Understanding for three years with the Panama Canal Authority. In addition to Bocek, Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, the Honorable Carmen Gisela Vergara, attended the Panama Day events, which also featured a luncheon, business forum and reception. The forum covered such topics as an overview of the economy, maritime/Panama Canal, infrastructure, telecom and technology, regional headquarters, trade and investment, tourism, healthcare, energy, air transportation, real estate and education. The U.S. Panama Business Council USA’s Southwest Chapter will include the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, with headquarters in Houston. Ricky Kunz, general manager of the PHA’s Trade Development Division, was appointed to the chapter’s board of directors. PHA plans to host a series of meetings in early September to inaugurate its Central and South America presence based in Panama. For more information, visit www.portofhouston.com.

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